Volvo’s Almost Competed with the Land Rover Defender in Creating a Square-shaped SUV Alternative

Vintage Volvo style: Embracing the angular silhouette with adoration

In the 1970s, Volvo had a wide range of sedans and wagons in its lineup. However, it may come as a surprise that the Swedish automaker once considered developing a square-shaped SUV. This information was shared by Hans Hedberg, who serves as Volvo Cars’ Heritage Manager and handles Corporate Branding, on his LinkedIn account.

The announcement arrived alongside a draft drawing of the angular SUV, displaying a compact build with two doors and two segments. It features brief extensions at the front and rear, along with a backup tire suspended on the back door. The vehicle also boasts an elongated bonnet, squared wheel arches, and an expansive cabin for optimal view, lengthened by a window that encompasses one-third of the door just above the waistline. On the front end, the sketch exhibits rectangular headlights and a grille adorned with Volvo’s signature Iron Mark.

The design displayed the automaker’s signature aesthetic seen in other modern models such as the Volvo 200 Series. According to Hedberg, Gunnar Falck, a longstanding design director at Volvo, created the angular SUV concept under the direction of both CEO Pehr Gyllenhammar and Chairman of the company for twenty years.

The concept was to design a durable car that would be suitable for Africa and other emerging nations. At that time, the Land Rover Defender and Toyota Land Cruiser were already highly sought after, especially for agricultural, construction, and other off-road purposes. Volvo had its sights set on capturing a share of this market. In the US, this robust sport utility vehicle would have rivalled tough contenders from that era, like the Chevy Blazer, as well as modern favorites such as the restomod version of the Ford Bronco.

The concept of vehicles not making it to the production line is not a new phenomenon, and there could be numerous reasons behind it. According to Hedberg, the exact reason for its failure to reach production remains undisclosed, with only a mention that it was “never realized for various reasons.” While development expenses and marketing hurdles are commonly cited as excuses for abandoning a new project, internal power struggles, unpredictable market conditions, and countless other factors could also be attributed.

In the early 2000s, Volvo made a bold move by launching its debut SUV, the XC90. The vehicle boasted a contemporary appearance with elegant contours, quickly establishing itself as a beloved model in the market. One could argue that postponing the release of a Volvo SUV was a wise decision, while others may disagree.

We would be thrilled to witness the realization of this rectangular SUV drawing in the future, possibly as a DIY undertaking. Are there any individuals willing to take on this challenge?


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